Hey folks! Remember a few weeks ago, I wrote a huge piece about how hard it was to make money blogging these days? Well I just got back from FinCon13 that happened 2 weeks ago and heard the same song from other bloggers; Google sucks, money is hardly earned and the community is stronger than ever.
FinCon13 is a great conference where 511 financial bloggers met in St-Louis. This is the 3rd edition of the conference and I’ve been to all of them. As always, I learned a ton. Here’s my personal take of what is going on in the blogging world.
If you have any blogging friends irregardless of topic, forward this to them, it will be a great help!
My first thought on the trip back home was “OMG, the internet moves so FAST!”. That’s funny; I sound like a 60 year old that can’t keep up with technology. The truth is that I’m 32 and…. I can’t keep up with the internet! The fact that I started blogging back in 2006 makes me a dinosaur today. Forget about the whole “with age comes experience”. There is an Ice Age crashing dinosaurs every 2 years on the web so 7 years in the business is like 500 million years in the real world.
The last Ice Age happened for us in early 2012 when Google struck with his minion called PANDA. Since then, my race (thefinancialusbloggerus), is starving and constantly on the move to desperately find Atlantis, the promised land. Jeff Rose from Financial Cents shared how he strived and survived being dumped by Google in a hilarious presentation. The most important lesson learned from his speech was about what to do when you get hit by Google. I’m sharing this with you…
Yeah… not the fanciest way to put it, but it’s so true. There is nothing you can do, so you had better move on. The thing is that Google is too big and too powerful for you to do anything. The worst is that you are too small and too insignificant for Google to care about. Therefore, you can enter in an endless manual reconsideration process but it will take you several months of back and forth email before it achieves anything.
Once Jeff got over the “denial stages” and stopped thinking “Google is going to fix this mess, it’s a matter of days”, he started to hustle like a villain.
He started this huge guest post campaign to be featured on about every single blog in the financial niche.
He connected with several bloggers and went back to the basics of blogging; connect with a community.
He used other ways to get traffic such as Twitter and Pinterest (he also has an awesome wife who does all the “Pinteresting”).
After all his work, after going back to the basics of blogging, after he worked like a maniac on his websites, he finally got his traffic back, and more. All this took him 12 months or so of hard work and thinking outside the box.
The most important lesson from Jeff was to “suck it up” and start hustling. If you don’t work very hard, all the time, you will get mediocre results. I’ve seen this for many of my sites which I’ve left drifting in the web ocean. Nothing good is really happening with them. This is why it is so important to keep your focus and work on things that matter… like your main blog!
Another great session was delivered by a great panel of self-publishers; Derek Olsen who wrote The Four Week Financial Turnaround, Mike Piper who is living from his 8 investment books on sale at Amazon, Todd Tresidder who wrote an Amazon top selling retirement book called How Much Money Do I Need To Retire? and Ben Edwards from Money Smart Life who wrote Get Out of Debt Like Debt Heroes with the help of 21 bloggers.
The four guys reminded me, once again, that evolution is faster than the motion. About six month ago, offering your eBook on Kindle for free for a small period (3 to 5 days) was an amazing way to jump in the rankings and surf among the top sellers of your category. If you had a good readership (read a sizeable mailing list), you could drive enough downloads to make your book a success instantly. Well it appears that this technique is still good, but doesn’t provide the same drive as it used to. The reason? Amazon changed its ranking weight depending on the price of the book; a book sold is worth a lot more than a book downloaded for free!
However, while Amazon evolves with time, its internal search engine is similar to what Google used to be… 10 years ago. This means that keyword stuffing still works for your book description! In order to find your book in its library, Amazon has designed its own search engine where users type in some keywords to find what they are looking for. A good example of keyword stuffing is to add a sub-title to your book that includes several good keywords. This sub-title doesn’t show on your book cover and will be mostly read by the Amazon search engine and nobody else. For example, for my book “Dividend Growth”, I could add a sub-title like: A Dividend Investing Process to Invest in Dividend Growth Stocks. Not the most appealing sub-title and pretty repetitive (where you get the word “dividend” and “invest” twice in the same line). But Amazon’s search engine will pick it up and rank you for those keywords!
Mind you, by the time you read this, this trick might not even work anymore… hahaha!
Since I’m nearly working on just one thing these days (launching a membership website), I attended several “course building” or “mailing list funnel building” sessions. Steve Chou from My Wife Quit Her Job was generous enough to share his step-by-step email funnel generating a 6 figure business.
What was truly shocking was to see how he used what he learned from his first email funnel (to help his wife build his wedding handkerchief business) to build a second business (related to how to setup an ecommerce store). So he basically “copied/pasted” his funnel for his second business and the results were instantaneous.
I’m not going to “steal” his stuff and tell you about it on my blog. Instead, I’m going to tell you to register to his free mailing list and you will understand his process as you receive the emails. I think it’s the best way to learn.
Have you ever heard of creating a freemium to convert more people to your product once they have registered to your mailing list. A Free what? A FREEMIUM. Quinn from Cubicle Free was the first guy who told me about the concept. Then, I revisited the concept and more in a great presentation given by David Siteman Garland (Rise to the Top) who sells an online course about making great online interviews.
A Freemium is basically something you can offer for free that would be halfway between what’s free on the web and what you truly offer in your membership/product/online course. For example, David offers a first series of free videos on the basics of how to do the interview. This series is offered to his mailing list subscribers at no hidden cost whatsoever.
You probably know a bunch of people who register to his mailing list, “steal” his free videos and move on. From those readers, David makes zip.
However, there are others who will register to the mailing list, watch the videos and think “I definitely need more info about this; I really want to invest myself in this project”. These readers become clients and this is when David makes money.
Is he leaving money on the table because he gives stuff away for free? I don’t think so. The basic info found in his first videos is just to get you started to hold the interview. So if you are not ready to do more, you are not the right client for his product anyways. The freemium is also used to validate the interest of your potential client. If someone who’s not too sure about hosting an interview ends-up paying $500 for a course that he doesn’t really use because he bought it without thinking too much, you can be sure you will get a complaint.
The last thing I want to highlight from his presentation is the following:
When you think about it, the more you charge for your product, the higher the chances are that your clients won’t be jerks who expect everything for free. They are more likely to appreciate your work and effort to deliver a high end product. The satisfaction of a client doesn’t come from the product or the price, it comes from the perception of the product compared to the perception of the price paid. Nothing more, nothing less.
I’m going to stop here for today, however I have a lot more to share in the upcoming days. For now, I have to get back to my membership site and launch it before Christmas!
MikeGoogle+ Comments: 9 Read More
I’ve been doing a lot of work on my most recent niche website lately. It’s been about a month since I worked on the content creation and web design. The site now has over 20 high quality articles. They were all written by me and are all over 700 words with some pillar posts over 1,500 words. I have completed the exhaustive keyword research to make sure I cover most aspects with regards to this topic and that I’ll have over 60-70 articles once the site is finished.
Writing content and building a site is nice but it doesn’t get you ahead if you don’t have any visitors. This is where it all comes down to and why you need to start building links. This niche site project is very important for me as I’m currently designing processes and trying different methods that I’ve never used before. If this works the way it planned, I will be able to use this whole process and boost all my existing websites. At this stage, I’m still experimenting. My latest experiment was hiring a VA to do a part of the boring administration. Surprisingly, after I spoke to Jon from Authority Website Income, it took me only 30 minutes to find the most effective VA I have ever hired before through ODesk.
I always thought that paying someone $1-3 per hour would only lead to mediocre work. When I first tried ODesk, I was ecstatic; I could hire people to work for me full time for as little as $80 per week! I wanted to make sure I hired someone highly effective. So, I spent several hours looking at profiles, talking with my partner, writing an extensive job posting, reviewing applicants carefully and even interviewing three of them before I hired my first virtual assistant (VA). The whole process probably took me 20 hours if not more. And then, $500 literally wasted on a mediocre VA, I fired her and kept a bitter taste of my experience.
Since then, I’ve used ODesk only for very specific and contractual tasks such as editing or copywriting. I hired my two other VAs through my own personal network where I knew them before they started working for me. I had to pay them a lot more man $2/hour but at least, the work was getting done properly and in a timely manner.
At that point, I was probably feeling the same thing you do when it comes to using services such as ODesk; I was terrified. I was frozen in front of a world that I don’t completely understand and where I thought it would require tons of hours to find the right VA, coach him and finally probably waste more time than saving it! If you don’t know where to start or how to hire your VA, this article is for you.
I decided to give ODesk another chance to find a quality VA for less after discussing with Jon and how he has setup his work team (all coming from ODesk). I don’t use his exact technique but I’ve started from what he showed me.
This time, it took me 30 minutes to hire a highly effective and professional VA. I’ll do my best to share this 30 minute experience with you. I broke down my experience into 7 steps I’ll be using in the future for all my hiring as my goal will be to build a team of three VAs working on my niche sites.
The first step is basic but crucial. By determining what you need, I mean literally write down in small, easy-to-read, sentences what needs to be done. Instead of talking about the job itself (I was looking someone to help me do web research and link building), I outlined each specific task I needed for the new site.
This needed to be done regardless if I was going to hire a VA or not. It may require more than 30 minutes doing but if you want a solid site, you need this outline with an attack plan anyways. Without a plan, you’ll start working on your site as long as you have a passion for it without a clear direction of where you want to go. Like anything else in life, results will be okay at best without a plan.
I didn’t want to start by giving a complete attack plan to my future VA because this would require me to spend countless hours before hiring to make sure I don’t spend $100 per week on a guy who doesn’t know what he is doing.
I took a microscopic approach where I wanted to ask my VA to perform a single task for 10 hours on week #1. At 10 hours, my risk had now dropped to $30. I think I can afford this! Jon suggested that I hire whoever I feel like without doing much screening or interview. Test the VA with a specific and simple task and see if he can succeed. After all, any applicant can tell you they are experts in SEO and that they speak English fluently. You only see if it’s real once they start working for you (it’s pretty much the case in the “real” world as well, right?).
So I spent about 15 minutes writing a short but straightforward job posting:
The Job Title is pretty straightforward: I’m looking for someone who will do web research and help me with link building. Remark: you will receive several “I’m an expert in white hat SEO” applicants. The hourly rate is between $1 and $3 per hour. You don’t need to pay more than that for such tasks. I highlighted the potential a contractor could get by working for me. As I posted a maximum of 10 hours at first, I want to make sure I can capture the interest of people willing to work full time. However, I’m not ready to hire a fulltime VA yet.
The last paragraph is about required skills. The English level is the first thing to mention since I can’t hope to do well with my comment strategy if my VA leaves stuff like “me like lot of your post”. You have the option to select skills when you do your job posting, this is how I’ve selected “article-submission, blog-commenting, directory-submission, internet-research, link-building and SEO”. Then you simply have to hit the “publish” button and you are halfway set to find the VA of your dreams!
Once you publish your Job posting, ODesk will automatically suggest a few candidates. These contractors didn’t apply for the job yet but their profile fits your requirements. I had three best matches for my position and I contacted them and asked if they would consider applying on my job. After that, I closed the ODesk window and moved on towards another project.
Fast forward 45 minutes later, I received several notifications from ODesk telling me that I have new applicants for the job. I had received 65 applications… that was way too much for my brain to process. This is why I kept going with Jon’s advice: I hired someone within 5 minutes and closed the job application.
It appeared that one of the three best matches found replied to me and was interested in that job. The guy charges $2.78/hour, had worked over 1,000 hours at ODesk (you want to make sure your guy has been employed several times), showed a 4.77/5 rating and high English skill level.
This was enough for me to think that this guy could do a relatively good job at least. I hired him for 10 hours max during one week and gave him a very simple task to find articles I can comment on talking about my topic. Within 10 hours he had found 1,000 urls where we can comment. The next week, I kept the 10 hours but asked him to start commenting and writing about a web research he has to do. In a few more weeks, I’ll have more tasks and more hours but for now, I keep him at 10 hours per week to see if he’s worth it. I am better off saving my time working on other projects than coaching and interviewing candidates. This is why I’ve hired rapidly but started slowly to train the VA the way I want him to work with me.
There is a reason why my VA was so effective on day #1 of his employment: I designed a clear and clean process on how to perform the task I asked of him. For each task, I send him a Word document with a step by step method to apply. I even provide him with examples to make sure he knows exactly what is being required. It does take some time, but it helps a lot to manage both his time and mine. By going through the process in detail, I must pause and think about each thing that needs to be done. This is a great moment where I can add value to my process and make sure I am taking the right actions.
I already know which tasks he will be required to do in the future as they were designed in the attack plan done in Step #1. The only thing left to be done is to design each process and to create a calendar of tasks to send more and more things to be done by your VA. In a few months, this guy will most probably work 40 hours per week for me if he keeps doing such a great job.
TADA! A valuable VA hired within 30 minutes of my time!
My VA had successfully passed the two week test. I asked him to complete three different tasks (web research, blog commenting and article writing). During this test period, the VA showed me that he was able to follow my processes from A to Z, to complete web research rapidly, write smart and good English blog comments and write informational 400 word articles.
If he had failed to meet my standard, I would have simply wasted about $60 but not much time spoiled. I would have simply fired the guy, reposted the job, hired another one that make sense in 5 minutes and hoped that it worked out this time, that the VA would do the job. By using metrics such as 1000 + hours worked and over 4.5/5 rating, you increase you chance of success significantly!
Once you found a great VA, you don’t want to stop there. If your VA stops working for you after a year, you will be left with an awesome working process, but no one to complete it. This is why it is important to build a team of three VAs able to do each other’s work. I would rather have three VAs working 10 hours a week for me than having 1 VA at 30 hours.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get 3 VAs at 30 hours and it will be worth it!
I you have any questions, please go ahead, I’m sharing as I’m learning with my new virtual assistant!Google+ Comments: 4 Read More
Who ever thought of making money out of their passion? Is it not the best financial scenario? Making money while you do something you truly enjoy. Most hobbies and passions require that you pay to enjoy them. If you can find a way where you can be paid to enjoy your hobbies, you have just found the Holy Grail! I’m not sure it’s true. A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article about not turning your hobby into a money maker @ Retire By 40. Joe outlined a list of reasons why making money from your hobby isn’t as perfect as you may think.
A few years ago, I would have argued actively with him. I turned my blog into a business back in 2008. At that time, I saw the same thing as Joe: I can make money online. I can make money out of my hobby. Where I’m a bit different than him is that I started The Financial Blogger back in 2006 with this objective in mind: making money online.
When I start writing my blog, I knew I could make money from it. My friend (who became my partner in this adventure) was already making money from his website. He made enough to pay for his tuition fees and go on a 6 months foreign exchange student program. He never had a summer job, he was simply working online a few hours per week from his bedroom.
Then, I started to do some research and found John Chow. He had the first “make money blogging” blog I followed. When I was telling people in the Personal Finance Blog niche (we were less than 100 at that time) that I was in to make thousands of dollars per month, they all told me that I would be lucky if I could make $200 monthly! I decided to continue nonetheless as I knew that other people were making money.
This is why I started blogging: to make money. I wanted to share my financial knowledge as I thought that most people don’t get the right advice from financial advisors and journalists. The second goal was to improve my English writing skills. But behind all that, I knew I could make money from this business.
What happened is that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I’ve always love writing and even thought of becoming a writer when I was a kid. When I realized that most writers are starving, I thought a career in the financial industry was a better idea .
Slowly but surely, my passion for blogging and this whole “new world” started to grow inside of me. At that time, I was thinking about my blog non-stop. I used to get ideas at any time of the day and night and sent myself emails to keep track of them all. I developed a passion for building a business online.
At that point, I had reached the perfect balance: doing something I truly enjoy while making money from it. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect…
I mentioned this on the blog already but 2012 was a crappy year for us. The combination of having a new (very demanding) job, not sleeping with our newborn, getting stuck under $10,000 of unexpected expenses plus getting kicked in the nuts by Google was a lot of downers in a very short time span.
My passion started to fade away and I temporarily lost the desire to work like a maniac on my blogs. I still liked the fact of having a company and running projects but it looked a lot like a job at one point. The obligation of writing weekly, the tracking of our income and expenses, the projection updates we are doing to make sure we are on track with our objectives… All that sounds a lot like a job vocabulary and not a hobby or a passion.
This was a rough period as I know I need this money in my budget. A good part of my overall income is derived from my online company now. It represents roughly 30% of my income; I just can’t let it go. But having a second job (on top of being a father of three!) seems just like a recipe for a burnout later on. It hurt to think that I needed to work on my company instead of wanting to.
I can describe myself as a very difficult individual when it comes to work. I’m a real beast of productivity and do not fear completing humongous tasks within a ridiculous timeframe. However, I must be happy to do so. If I don’t have fun doing what I do, I become mediocre. I didn’t have the flame burning inside throughout 2012. This is when I started to question myself.
I had to go back to the reasons why I was having so much fun with my business and pulled them back to the top of my priority list. I love managing my business and seeing growth. Results are definitely the most inspiring factors for me. This is why I started to concentrate on how I can bring results to the table.
Cutting the crap, do what I love was the first thing I changed. I decided to write only the stuff that I want to write about. Too bad for Google and too bad if you don’t like it, I’m going to please myself with this blog!
Being part of a Master Mind Group was a clever move. I now have a weekly meeting with motivated people that help me bring results to the table. This is a true motivator for me.
Having a meeting with my partner was another great idea. Each year, we meet-up over the weekend to work on our company. We had a great discussion about the future of our blogs and our involvement. This has boosted my motivation through the roof.
It is! I’m feeling free to do what I like and this is probably the most important thing when you have a business or a hobby; never feel that you are forced to do something. This is probably the beginning of the end if you keep on to this route.
Do you find it difficult running your blog now that you are making money out of it? Is it changing anything to your writing style?
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If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m obsessed with productivity. I feel sick each time I see inefficiency. If you plan on doing something, take a few minutes to organize yourself and make sure your work will be 100% productive. I’ve highlighted my productivity techniques in the following 8 articles:
These are all great tricks but there is a common problem with all these articles; they all rely on YOU! I don’t know if you have noticed but YOU are quite limited when it comes down to productivity:
- You only have 24 hours in a day
- You automatically have to spend a few hours eating, sleeping and… well… working
- You get tired
- You have a life
For all these good reasons, you can’t be always be productive. If you are working on your sideline from time to time, you probably find it frustrating to fall behind on everything else all the time. I know the feeling; I’ve been through this pain.
I’m a man of priorities. While I truly enjoy making more money, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of my family. This is why I’ve decided to bump up my website cost structure and hire Virtual Assistants (VAs). After a while, my two VAs have literally become extensions of my brain. They know how I process information and about my way of thinking. They are now able to adopt my methodology and make things run the way I would.
I don’t even have to worry about anything as they do it as well as I would do. Sometimes, I read comments, articles or email answers done by my VAs and I truly feel that I wrote that! The best part is that I wasn’t even involved in the process and don’t even influence them!
Just to give you a few ideas what they could do, here’s a list of tasks I pay for:
- Edit, format, add pictures and publish articles
- Comments/read other blogs
- Reply to emails
- Manage marketing campaigns
- Pay writers, brokers
- Write articles, manage other writers
- Keyword research
- Find topics to write about
- Brainstorm for other sites
- Comment/improve eBooks I write
Each VA has their own skills and abilities. I dispatch tasks to be done weekly or monthly plus I send them emails from time to time for specific projects. This is why most of their work is known upfront and they don’t have to communicate with me to achieve their tasks. I do spot check once in a while to make sure everything is being done according to my standards.
Sometimes, I don’t need someone to work full time for me and I can’t ask my regular VAs to complete these tasks. Some tasks require more experience and background in a field my regular VAs are not familiar with. This is a list of things I have to find specific VAs for a one time task:
- Blog designs / templates
- Logo designs
- Coding / programming
- Edit previous posts
- eBook Covers
I’m sure that you get the idea by now of having someone work for you. If I can make $50 an hour out of a task, the point is simply to find someone who will charge me less than that to achieve it. The difference between the VA cost and the revenues from the task is kept in my pockets.
The other way around is also true. If I was to spend many hours to complete a task and not even end-up with a nice results at the end, the cost of paying someone to do it for me would equal to saving several hours of work. As time is worth money, you can save by outsourcing too.
In order to do such magical arbitrage, you need to deal with highly competent individuals. I picked my 2 main VAs from two different worlds:
Martin is a blogger and works online for a living. He actually authors a site called Start Freelancing Now . I’ve been working with Martin for so many years I don’t even remember how it all started . I appreciate his enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and get things done. If you pick a blogger to work for you, you will save a lot of time as you won’t have to train him/her too much. This is probably the biggest advantage: the blogger will be ready to work for you the next morning and provide you with great results.
V is my feminine version. She’s like me on many points and I truly appreciate working with her. She is also my sister-in-law which made the decision to employ her very touchy. My partner and I thought about it for a long time before we offered her a job. Today, we feel that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. She is able to work part time and take care of her child and we have someone working on a steady basis on various projects. When you pick among your friends and family, you have the advantage of knowing the good and the bad points of the person. You know exactly what to expect but it’s also important to clearly set expectations. If you are not clear about what is expected, the situation could result in a very delicate issue.
Bloggers and friends are very good to use as “main VA”. Those VAs will do several tasks and work with you on a daily or weekly basis. Depending on the task, I use several sites as reference to find VAs:
For logos and designs, we usually use 99 Designs. For a very cheap price, you are able to get profession work done. What I like the most about it is the option of getting dozens of designs and pick among them to buy what you truly had in mind. Dealing with a single designer will limit your options and you won’t be able to go back and forth 20 times to improve logos. With 99 Designs, you can explain what you need and you have plenty of designers offering their drafts for free. Then, you pick one and start working with him.
I’ve had a hard time to find main VAs through oDesk and eLance. I’m not saying it’s not possible but I’m saying that I don’t have the experience to help you out with this. However, a good friend of mine does: Quinn from Cubicle Free is currently offering a free eBook about how to get your VA from those two sites.
However, I do use oDesk for several other tasks. When I need a programmer to code a few things on my site, this is definitely the perfect place to go to post your need. Within a few days, you are set with a profession that won’t charge you an arm and a leg to do the job. I’ve also used oDesk for specific writing contracts. Since you can find writers in any field, it’s easy to find what you are looking for with a great level of English.
I’m sure you have tons of questions about hiring a virtual assistant and I would like to hear them. I’m willing to share my experience on this topic but I’m just not sure where to start. So go for it! I’m all yours…
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Last week, Sam from Financial Samurai asked me about my cost structure. I’m known for spending a lot within my company and most readers think my cost structure is quite heavy. I can understand their point of view but I can also tell you that having a third kid last year made managing my schedule a little bit more complicated! We had to rely on our team to keep the company rolling and this is what happened. Here’s the most up to date expense breakdown:
The bulk of our expenses is related to VAs and writers. Since we own several blogs, it’s impossible for us to write for all of them. Over time, my partner and I concentrated on a few sites that we like and truly have a passion for it. Writing for TFB is never a pain; in fact, it’s more fun than it looks!
Several emails and advertising management are handled by my VAs. We also use them to write a few articles, publish and edit others. They truly save me a lot of time as I don’t have to look over their work on a weekly basis. I check a few tasks each month to make sure that we are on track and I leave the rest up to them to manage.
We recently cut back on our writer’s budget. The reason was simple: we wanted to make sure that each site was profitable. Each month, we track our revenues per site and include this data in an excel spreadsheet (another task done by my VA ). Then, it was easy for us to take the average revenue per site on a monthly basis taking the last 18 months as an average. Those who were too close to their cost structure got their number of posts diminished. Over time, we realized that most blogs don’t need 5 new articles weekly to drag traffic. It is sometimes too much to read for visitors anyways! We would rather write quality over quantity and will make the same revenues while spending less money.
Accounting and banking fees are both pains we have to live with. I hate compiling ins and outs so I send all my statements once a month to my accountant and everything is being handled by them. I would probably have to waste a good 3-4 hours per month on that. So I guess it’s worth it! Within the banking fees, we also have a life insurance payment.
About a year ago, we took a permanent life insurance of $250,000 on both my partner’s and my life. In our shareholder agreement, we included that upon death, the $250K would be payable to the other partner so he could buy the deceased’s share. This was a great way to ensure that our work was 1) preserved for the other partner and 2) that our wives would get a benefit from this company.
The number here seems very high. We don’t spend $1,000 in servers. But we both have internet access, phone and other utilities linked to this spending account. This is why we end-up paying so much in servers & utilities. This is a way for us to benefit from the fact that we have a company at the same time since we don’t draw any income or dividend from it. We also include our $150/month Aweber subscription in there. Since having newsletters is now part of our core business, it’s a small fee generating a lot of money. Plus, it makes us more independent from Google!
We have done some major restructuration with our servers in 2012 in order to optimize our speed and service along with our cost structure (you can read about our servers’ adventures here). Our servers + domain renewal costs range around $600 per month now. We still have some cleaning up to do that should result in another saving of $50/month. This should be done in the upcoming months.
So our total operating cost per month is now below $4,000. I believe we have a very strong structure since we can easily grow our business without spending much money. The only spending account that could increase would be writers but this would also mean that our revenues would expand at the same time.
We currently average $8,000 in gross income per month since the latest Google EMD update. So after two major hits in 2012, we are still in line to make slightly over the psychological bar of $100K per year. So where does all our exceeding money go? I’ll let you guess…
There is another important account in our budget: debt servicing! I mentioned last year that we are on an aggressive debt repayment plan. We used to be over $90K in debt and we are now down to $77K. We have restructured our debt to pay a smaller interest rate (we now pay 4%! Whoohoo!). Our goal is to pay off all our corporate debts within the next 24 to 30 months. Since the online economy is changing rapidly, we thought it would be a better idea to clean up our balance sheet while we are making money and stop leveraging for a while.
Borrowing to finance our growth was definitely the best strategy we used for a while. Now that it has become harder to growth (because of a lack of time doubled with internet uncertainty), we decided it was time to pay our debts back. In less than three years, we should have a company netting roughly $50,000 per year in profit. This is what I call free cash flow!
The beauty of all this is not the 100K in revenues and definitely not the 45K of operating costs! The beauty is to make 25K each of net profit with less than 40 hours of work per month. This means that my hourly wage when I work on my blog is around $48/hours. This is not an astronomical number but considering that I can derive benefits from the company in addition to the $48/hours (such has having free internet and not having to pay for any computers!), I think it’s truly worth it!
The decision we made was to work less and earn less. However, we wanted to see our company grow while we are working at our day jobs. This is mainly the reason why we have decided to keep our cost structure higher. The idea behind it is also to build a safety net. If I was to lose my job tomorrow morning, I could fire all my writers and VA’s (which would suck!) and start working 40 hours for my company and keep a decent living from the income. This would give me enough time to turn around and make my company grow even faster.
If we would have kept only a few sites and would do everything by ourselves, we would surely have a cost structure of less than $1,000/month and netting over $7,000 each month. But we would also work a lot more than 10 hours a week! I still prefer playing with my kids than blogging, hahaha!Google+ Comments: 15 Read More
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